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Hello... and - the wrong embrouchure

Hi guys

Firstly, I've just signed up to this forum so, Hello everyone.

I'm really a trombone player and I've just got myself a flute, so I'm starting at the beginning again.

I have a question... I can get a pretty reasonable note with just the mouthpiece section (what's the proper name for that?) but when I put the flute together I can get a reasonable C, B and D, but the A and (high) E are weak and they're about the only notes I can get.

Is this sort of problem normal for a beginner or am I probably doing something wrong? I'm trying very hard to "unlearn" my brass embouchure and start again so maybe it's to do with that?

What do you think?



Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I taught beginning band for many years. Here are a few things that worked for most of my flute students. Put the lips together and blow a fast, cold air stream letting the air make the opening in the lips. Bring your index finger up and feel the air stream. It should feel strong and narrow. Standing in front of a mirror blow an air stream that feels the same and using two hands bring the headjoint up to catch the air stream where it makes the biggest sound. Repeat this until you know the exact spot to put the lip plate above the chin to get this sound. The lower lip should be relaxed as if "pouting" and cover approximately 1/3 of the hole. Go on to the whole flute only when you can sustain a big full tone on the headjoint for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Somewhat like the brass, the aperture in the lips changes with each note. Generally the higher you go the narrower the opening becomes, and the lower you go the wider it becomes. Like on brass instruments going higher requires faster air, but that is not the same as blowing harder which causes the pitch to go sharp. Practicing in front of a mirror helps to see how large the opening is when you play a given note. The following steps can be helpful as you are learning to play:

1. Hear the pitch in your mind. Singing the note helps.
2. Blow the pitch on the airstream---like an airy sounding whistle.
3. Play the note with the same "tuned" air.

Good luck. Hope some of these ideas help.

Thanks for that, some useful things to work on.

I took my flute to a repairer's yesterday for a once-over and he said that ".. some of the keys need adjusting" which he did. I can now get most of the notes to sound (although at the moment the sound is pretty awful), so the problem wasn't entirely me.

Lots of work to do but I'm optimistic

Yep, I've had one lesson with a flute teacher and will do a couple more. She already showed me that my embrouchure was all wrong..... I was using my "trombone player" version of the embrouchure which is very different from the flute version.
It’s called a “Head Joint”

I played Trombone in Fifth grade... big mouthpiece/different mouth form. Think smaller/narrower air across a coke bottle top, and save up LOTS of air support in your diaphragm, that you use sparingly.

tension is your enemy, as well as over-blowing the note. Sometimes “less” is “more.”
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